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February 26, 2005

20th Jewish Music Festival in Berkeley, CA, Mar 19 - Apr 3

This is the sort of thing that makes me so jealous. One day, perhaps Jews in Boston will support Jewish arts and culture, as well (and don't hesitate to write the Combined Jewish Philanthropies here to ask them to help initiate and to support such events, www.cjp.org:

The 20th Annual Jewish Music Festival, March 19- April 3 The largest festival of Jewish music in the US celebrates its landmark anniversary in Berkeley, San Francisco and Marin. Highlights include members of Israel's East West Ensemble with the Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble, Theodore Bikel with Hankus Netsky, the Klezmatics with Joshua Nelson, Community Music Day with an Instrument Petting Zoo, Hebrew hip-hop, and workshops for all ages; Judith Cohen, a leading scholar of Sephardic music, and Emil Zrihan, an extraordinary Israeli counter-tenor and cantor of the Moroccan tradition in a sneak preview of a new work with America's leading, San Francisco based new music string quartet.

Tickets and Info: 415-276-1511 or www.brjcc.org
15% discount for groups of 10 and more.
A project of the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center

Pictures from the St. Petersburg KlezShul workshop w/Michael Alpert

photo from KlezShul
A gute vokh Ari!

Have just come from KlezShul workshop with Michael Alpert from St.Petersburg. Maybe you'll be interested to look at a brief photo review of the event. klezmer.narod.ru/klezshul05.html

Mit same varemste grusn fun Minsk,
Dmitri Slepovitch.

New reviews by George Robinson in the Jewish Week

While I have been taking my time, George Robinson has released his lastest collection of reviews in this week's (2/18/05) Jewish Week: A Black-Jewish Chord, featuring among other things, three Black-Jewish collaborations (including the new Klezmatics album).

February 8, 2005

Doing my best to sell out

me in the old t-shirtIt's time to launch the official 10th anniversary KlezmerShack celebration. The first concerts are sponsored next month (details very, very soon) and I'm working on the press release as fast as I can type. In the meantime, I have updated the KlezmerShack logo (see the top of this web page) to reflect this year, and opened a new Klezmershack shop with CafePress. (The design I was wearing at KlezKanada several years ago, in this picture to your left, has been retired. At least, for now. If nothing else, I am still exploring new spellings of the term "klezmer" in Hebrew and Yiddish, and looking for excuses to use more of my favorite Hebrew fonts. Out with the old, in with the new. What else is a consumer society for, if not new swag from the KlezmerShack?)

I'll add new items to the store as time permits or people request CafePress that they see featured on other websites. In the meantime, please feel encouraged to purchase as much swag as seems appropriate - I actually get a percentage of the sales, which helps pay the electric bill and such.

Why CafePress? Two reasons. First, they create each item on demand, so if nobody wants any of this stuff, all that was wasted was a bit of time. Second, they handle shipping and everything else, so you're not waiting for me to get my act together to send you t-shirts that I'm going to get more of just next month or whenever. Things go out to you almost as fast as you order them. And they have staff who are there to handle complaints when things go wrong. I like that.

February 6, 2005

Michael Drapkin, "Invocation"

Michael Drapkin has a nifty entry about music - Jewish music in particular, that he shares on his blog today:

Last Sunday, January 30, 2005, I asked Rabbi Shmuel Skaist to give an invocation at the Gala Concert of my chamber music group Music Amici. His speech below, whether you are religious or Jewish or not, is a beautiful discussion of music and its timelessness that I found quite moving. Even my wife Suzy, who is very non-religious, thought it was beautiful - the ultimate acid test.

You can read it on my blog at www.drapkin.net/blogger.html

"Djemaa el Fna" - Nancy Metashvili reports from Marrakesh

Alaskan Klezmer Nancy Metashvili continues her trip through Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Cher amis;

Hammams, mikvahs, Moroccan 'hot showers' (ie. cold)—a theme develops of life on the road in Morocco; trying to stay warm! and get clean.

Warmth has happened. We spent the day of the Eidd al Kabeer—baaaa—Mouton throat slitting Day, le Grand Fète d' Maroc, the Feast of the Sacrifice of Ibrahim wandering the Roman ruins of Volubilius. Quite striking, with its ancient tilework, olive presses, a lavishly huge Arc d' Triomph, temples and baking ovens circa 2nd century AD... There was hot sun, mating storks; the massive grey stone blocks embroidered with faded lilac bulbs and blooming wild paperwhite narcissus, the colums of stone arches topped by shaggy overhanging nests, with fuzzy clacking storks inside, and tiny flitterflutter birds sharing the strawdripping sides of the behemoth nests.... bees and light and distant laughter. Peace, with the slanting winter sun turning the scene golden. Peaceful indeed, and yet

—at midday a faint cosmic BAAAAAAAAAAA

as sheep the Islamic World over had their throats slit. By the time we returned to Meknes it was mostly over and tidied away. ( Unlike Egypt 2 years ago when I missed the killing by the clever strategy of being sailing in the middle of the Nile, but still encountered myriads of bloody hides piled on every street corner) Here you still see the drying hides but it is less raw. There's no escaping it though—wandering through the Medina a chance encounter led to an invitation home, and there I was with a freshly grilled mutton sandwhich in hand! This is when carniverous friends come in handy, as I surreptitiously slipped my meat to them and nibbled the bread.

It was interesting to learn that the Deed had been bloodily done right in their courtyard, the carcass hung from the balcony, and the gore washed down the drain; I also got to go in the kitchen and see their Freezer filled with little baggies of frozen mutton! A relief to have it over, after days of seeing resigned sheep carried in tumbril carts through streets and lanes everywhere we went, and chanting horsemen galloping through the streets of the Fes Medina at dawn.

So we've moved south, through Fes and Rabat and Casablanca. I've done Business—now have a visa for Mauritania, god help me!—and we are ensconsed not far from the famous Djemaa el Fna Square....

and all the stories ever told about it seem to be true! As I write, from my chilly rooftop aerie, I can hear the drums pounding, zurnas reediing, doubly, tricking me at first into a nostalgic dream of Bulgarian gaidas... my mind reels from sensory overload...

     brightly patchworked henna ladies, the notorious Berber watersellers in their red bobbled hats and Jack o Lantern smiles, story tellers, banjo players, snake charmers, Barbary apes, sadly performing on their chains... one sweet old guy was an ethnomusicologists dream as he monotonously played a 4 note tune on a glued together upright viola and sang an 'old ballad'. On closer listen, he was totally faking, with la la la la la- sly old bugger, it was worth of couple of dirhams for the giggle!

This being modern times, the stalls and carts are propane fueled or run on generators. The din and pollution are terrible, it is SO loudy and stinky, but B R I G H T! Hot potato cakes, aubergines, kebabs, snails, lentils, harira, sweets, fresh orange juice, cinnamon hunja (chai), dates and figs and belly dancer getups for sale, slippers and carpets and shawls and DVDs and phone cards and Arabic newspapers... STUFF galore, to buy, eat, drink hear see sidestep smell goggle at and wonder at.

People from the four corners of the earth.

Nu, we splurged on a 'nice' hotel. For nearly $10 each we get clean warm beds, free Hammam, internet, breakfast and hot showers which are actually hot—and a rooftop terrace with views looking around onto the snow covered High Atlas Mountains, like a dream in the distance. To die for— and I nearly did! Well, maybe a mere amputation...

     an unsecured cement lined tiled tabletop (weight 16 tons) ended up on my foot. I am pretty sure it is not broken, the foot that is, but feels like it, and damn it will hinder my movements.

Hobble   hobble   hobble

But the Hammam ( Turkish steam bath) is glorious!! and the onsite internet, despite the very confusing French keyboard, will have to entertain me til I can walk again. And sunshine is predicted for tomorrow.

Ferenji Naan

February 3, 2005

Khevre, at LAST, and more

album coverI rolled out of KlezKanada in August listening to a hand-pressing of this album. It has been a frustrating long wait for the official CD, then for there be a way for the ten people who take these reviews seriously to get their copy (from CDBaby). It's available now, and there are fresh concerts coming up here in the Boston area. Read more now: Khevre / Oyfn Sheydveg. Liner notes by Michael Alpert.

Celebrate Yiddish album coverHere's another CD that has waited a long time for a review. Yes, that's tonight's theme: catching up on old favorites that I haven't yet announced here. In this case, I did my usual glowing review of the new Metropolitan Klezmer album when it came out, and kept meaning to do the same with the sister disk ... here it is: Greetings from the Isle of Klezbos.

band album coverOne of the early KlezmerShack reviews was of a Dutch band that seemed to be channeling the Klezmorim. It's time to mention another classic album by the band: Di Gojim / Oostenwind.

February 2, 2005

Mattisyahu review from middle America

Cleveland Jewish News photo of MattisyahuBert Stratton calls this article to my attention:

"Forelocks, not dreadlocks for Hasidic hip-hopper," by Ted S. Stratton, Cleveland Jewish News, Jan. 28, 2005